Last night, Portland’s own Lubec played at Mississippi Studios to celebrate the release of their debut album The Thrall. I got a chance to sit down with half of the band last week over at The Hilt to have a couple beers and chat. Eddie, Matt, and I talked a bit about their new record, the evolution of the local music community as Portland grows, and our mutual admiration for the scene in Boston. You can read the interview below and check out Lubec’s tunes over at their Bandcamp.
GB: So, you guys have just released your debut album.
EC: Yeah, it’s called The Thrall. There’s also a song on it called “The Thrall”.
Is it track 2?
MD: It’s track 11.
EC: Yeah, it’s the last track. Why? You like track 2?
I don’t know. Track 2 is always “the one” — it’s always the strongest one to me.
MD: Yeah we don’t wanna blow it too early. “The Thrall” is about how you feel when you summise everything you’ve been through. It fits as the last song.
EC: I do agree with you about the track 2 thing — it’s pretty crucial.
MD: We have a pretty killer track 2, it’s just not “The Thrall”.
EC: We’re happy with our track 2.
You aren’t originally from Portland, right? How long have you been in town?
EC: We’ve all lived here for over three years at least. Matt’s been here for seven years at least. Certain ones of us have been involved in other bands at different times and have kind of seen Portland change, too.
How has it changed?
MD: There’s always been a pretty strong DIY-sense of doing things here, and there’s always been a bunch of styles that come and go, but one thing I notice now is that it’s a bit more inclusive. Bands are continously supporting each other and supporting the scene, whether it’s people working their tail off to keep certain venues alive or bands just reaching out and being supportive. I feel like I’m doing less competing when I’m out there, and it’s more like everyone pushing everyone and having a good time. But, yeah, I’ve watched it changed for sure. It seems like when something good is going on, it maybe doesn’t last that long, and something new pops up. Like the Record Room — that was a special place that was only around for a couple years.
EC: For me, not having been here anywhere near as long, it has been cool to see some places pop up that I’ve been looking for all along, like The Hive, rest in peace. I loved that place. The Hive was interesting for me because that was one of the first places where I feel like I saw the whole life span of a venue play out. House venues always go through that process — they get too big and then you have to stop because you have neighbors and landlords and shit.
MD: There’s been a tenuous relationship with house shows here, I think. You know, as the city grows, the idea of “here’s this place where these kids and pushing art and music,” it sounds really ideal, but the reality is that a lot of people don’t want to experience that or don’t support it if they’re not involved in that music scene. Like, we’re sitting here on Alberta Street where The Know is half a block down, and they’re forced to end all their shows by 11 because the neighborhood isn’t about the noise.
EC: At this point, though, I don’t know if The Know is any louder than the 50 people in line at Salt & Straw across the street.
I feel like it’s just a matter of time before The Know is gone. I wish it wasn’t like that, but if you look at that particular block, it’s like… there’s a Little Big Burger next door now.
EC: Yeah! That’s exactly what we were just talking about.
MD: The ice cream eaters won’t stand for it much longer. It’s a show for both parties. It’s like a living zoo because you’ve got all these folks you know don’t fucking live up on Alberta, but they’re all standing in line for their ice cream, and everyone at The Know is standing there watching them like, “Who the fuck are these people? C’mon, give me a break. Go back to Beaverton,” or whatever. And then they’re over there, conversely, waiting in line for their ice cream, in like khakis and shit, and they’re looking at the people outside The Know like, “Get it together. You’ve got be kidding me.” They’re saying the exact same thing about each other. We’re all watching each other, just like fucking confused.
There was this discussion on Facebook about show pricing, and something came up about varied bills. I was going to ask if you’d rather play a show that’s cross-genre or within your genre, but I feel like that answer is pretty obvious — same genre, right?
MD: Actually, I don’t think it’s that black and white. We play with our friends all the time and have rad shows and they may be more up our alley sound-wise, and then we’ve played those shows in like Olympia in a living room with bands that sound nothing like us and people are accepting it and having a rad time. It’s not keeping one sect of people away from the show or anything. For us, if there’s positive energy between the bands, that’s gonna come across the whoever is in the crowd, and if they’re having a good time, then… done deal. We’re having fun, they’re having fun, that’s what it’s all about.
EC: I think for whatever reason, we’ve been a harder to peg band than some of the others in this town, and I think that’s a good thing in the long run, but it can also be a hurdle.
MD: We’re not exactly a shoegaze band, we’re not exactly a garage band, and so we’ve used that to play with a bunch of different kinds of bands, whether they’re electronic musicians, or even like hardcore bands. In Portland, there are always so many bands playing all the time and so many places to play, but I think you would probably find that in any city where there’s a lot of musicians.
I think Portland’s an odd case because it’s fairly small, but it feels like there’re as many bands as like… Chicago or Boston or something. And speaking of Boston, I wanted to ask about your connection to Boston.
EC: It’s totally random. I write for Clicky Clicky [who are Boston-based], and the only reason I do is because the guy who runs it wrote about Lubec. I decided a couple years ago that I wanted to write for a music blog, so that was kind of my “in” since he already knew who I was. It’s been fascinating because I feel like I’ve watched a whole scene there that I’ve never even experienced, which is a very strange feeling.
I imagine. You’re constantly hearing these names and listening to these bands, but you never get to see them.
MD: It seems like Boston and Portland are like “sister cities” in the energy and what’s happening with music. You can draw some parallels.
EC: It’s true, and the differences are really interesting, too. I feel like the Boston scene is not fashionable. Unlike Portland, there’s no element of fashion with the bands. They’re very like, “We wear white tee, jeans,” — it’s only about the musicianship. The superficial aspects of being in a band don’t seem to really apply there. I think Portland has an element of needing to have an image — Boston isn’t image-based at all. Probably because they’re all miserable, practical academics.
For what it’s worth, I think Boston has the strongest DIY scene of all the cities in America.
EC: I agree, and I think Boston is interesting because the bands that are the most popular in the town are the DIY bands, unlike Portland. Again, I think every city has different principles and standards that they factor in.
MD: They don’t have “darlings” like we do here.
EC: Yeah, Boston is like, “Show us your songs, fucking own them, rock the fuck out,” and that’s it. That’s all it takes. Which is why I love covering that city, because that’s ultimately what I want to write about — the music. I don’t want to factor in anything else. I don’t think anything else really matters.